A new study in the journal Sleep and Breathing found that rapid maxillary expansion (RME) was effective in treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in children. The results of the treatment were apparent two years after treatment ended. RME involves widening the jaws using oral appliances.
The researchers evaluated the objective and subjective data over a 36-month follow-up period to determine whether RME is effective in the long-term treatment of OSA. The study included 14 children. The children's mean age was 6.6 years at entry and 9.7 years at the end of follow-up. Each child underwent an orthodontic assessment to detect possible jaw deviation from normal occlusion: deep bite, retrusive bite and crossbite.
A high angle face can cause breathing problems for children. Another common cause of OSA is large tonsils or adenoids. Removing the tonsils or readjusting the jaw line can help children breathe more easily during sleep.
All 14 children completed a 12-month therapeutic trial using RME and 10 enrolled in the follow-up study. Of the 10 children, five were male and five were female. The ten children took an overnight polysomnography (PSG) to test for the presence of OSA at baseline, after one year of treatment, and two years after treatment completion.
Results show that the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) decreased and the clinical symptoms had resolved by the end of the treatment period. Twenty-four months after the end of the treatment, no significant changes in the AHI or in other variables were observed.
The researchers concluded that RME may be a useful approach in children with malocclusion and OSA, as the effects of such treatment were found to persist 24 months after the end of treatment.
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